Written by Nicholas Sagan, Rene Echevarria, and Naren Shankar
Directed by Jonathan Frakes
The Enterprise travels to the planet Kesprytt. Two very different societies reside on the planet. The Kes wish to become members of the Federation, while the Prytt does not want contact with anyone at all. When Security Chief Worf (Michael Dorn) attempts to beam down Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) to meet with Kes representatives, something goes wrong. Picard and Crusher wake up in a Prytt prison cell.
Although they are suspected of conspiring with the Kes, that is not the main story. They have been given implants which the Prytt says “will reveal the truth.” When a map is found hidden among rations (along with Crusher‘s tricorder), the two decide to follow it. They soon begin to realize that the devices allow them to read each other’s thoughts.
What makes this situation more interesting is that there has always been a certain romantic tension between the two. As they follow the map and make their way through caverns that they believe will lead to their escape, their telepathic ability becomes stronger. They also begin experiencing physical discomfort any time they move away from each other.
Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) meanwhile, is meeting with a Kes Ambassador, Mauric (portrayed by Robin Gammell). Mauric tells him they know where Picard and Crusher are among the Prytt and are trying to secure their release. When Picard and Crusher fail to show up at the rendezvous, the Kes immediately begin to suspect the Federation of conspiring with the Prytt.
This gives more time for interaction between Picard and Crusher. It’s nice to see them together like this, off of duty to a certain extent. It allows them to get to know each other as their feelings become more out of the open between them. Because of the devices, Picard cannot hide his love for Beverly and must acknowledge the feelings he’s kept hidden for so long.
Jonathan Frakes drew the directing card this time around, and he gets a winner. The script is written by Nicholas Sagan, son of Carl Sagan. He’s delivered a terrific character piece which gets one of the situations hinted at throughout the seven seasons of the show out in the open. Both Patrick Stewart and Gates McFadden give excellent performances. Their “romance” is a mature one, not something they would leap into like a couple of kids. The actors manage to convey the feelings they have without having to be all over each other. Still, there’s no more denying it’s there and the two of them must deal with the ramifications once it’s out in the open.
Frakes also delivers on his own performance as Riker must confront representatives of the divided world and intimidate them into cooperating with the return of the missing officers. Riker is strong here; stronger than I’ve ever seen him. The dialogue is good and he makes the most of it. Sometimes it’s hard for actors to really get a feel for their character when they are behind the camera, but Frakes overcomes that obstacle here.
The biggest problem is the fact that although Picard and Crusher now have put their feelings out in the open, they “agree to remain friends” and nothing is ever built on the events of this episode. It would have been nice to see them pick up the relationship to some degree in the movies at least if the feeling was that there was too much else to deal with to conclude this final television season of the series.
That’s not the fault of this episode, however. Although it doesn’t have any terrific battles or notable special effects, fans will enjoy the slight payoff in the relationship which has been dangled in front of us for all those seasons.
Previous episode in the series (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – Dark Page
Next episode in the series (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – Force of Nature